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Wes Craven's 8 Scariest Scenes

The man behind many of our favorite scary movies would have turned 77 today. Celebrate Craven's legacy by reliving the most shocking and suspenseful moments from the horror maestro's frightening filmography

8
8 / 8

'Red Eye'

Movie: Red Eye

Released: 2005

Craven's Role: Director

Why It's Scary: For years, it seemed Wes Craven was trying to find his way out of horror, the genre that made him famous and pigeonholed him. In 2005's Red Eye, starring Rachel McAdams, Craven seems to have found a way to balance both. The film has the edge-of-your-seat suspense of a horror flick, but without any sci-fi monsters or over-the-top gore. Essentially, Red Eye is a very smart thriller. For most of the movie McAdams' character Lisa is stuck sitting on a plane right next to an eerily calm psychopath, telling her to do as he says or her father will die. However, the best scene is the climactic finale in the character's childhood home. Luckily, like in most of Craven's female-led films, McAdams' character isn't the helpless damsel in distress her opponent probably assumes.

Watch: Above!

7
7 / 8

'The Hills Have Eyes'

Movie: The Hills Have Eyes

Released: 1977

Craven's Role: Writer, Director, Editor

Why It's Scary: Traveling through the country by travel trailer, the Carter family makes the mistake of straying from the main road. Soon they come face-to-face with a group of deranged cannibals that live in the hills surrounding the area. In this scene, one of the savages breaks into the trailer and tortures the women of the family, all while trying to kidnap their baby. 

Watch: Above.
Warning: The above clip is extremely graphic and violent.

6
6 / 8

'The People Under the Stairs'

Movie: The People Under the Stairs

Released: 1991

Craven's Role: Writer, Director, Executive Producer

Why It's Scary: Thirteen-year-old Poindexter "Fool" Williams and his family are being evicted from their inner-city L.A. apartment, on top of not having money to pay for his sick mother's medical care. To save their apartment, Fool assists his sister's boyfriend Leroy in a ploy to burgle their rich landlords' home in the suburbs. What they find in the house is more terrifying than anything they could imagine.

Despite cannibalistic creatures living in the walls, it's actually the bizarre landlords who are the monsters, forcing their children to adhere to their strict rules, or be sent to the live in the walls or basement like animals. One of their children, Alice, has managed to survive. In the above clip actress Wendy Robie recalls working with Wes Craven and shooting one of the film's most disturbing scenes.

Watch: Above!

5
5 / 8

'Wes Craven's New Nightmare'

Movie: Wes Craven's New Nightmare

Released: 1994

Craven's Role: Writer, Director, Executive Producer

Why It's Scary: New Nightmare was Craven's first return to a Freddy Krueger film since his initial involvement on in Nightmare on Elm Street 3 in 1987 (before parting ways because of creative differences). The twist was that the '94 film takes place in real life where "Nancy" is actually actress Heather Langenkamp, "Freddy" is actually actor Robert England, and Wes Craven stars as...Wes Craven. 

New Nightmare is essentially a movie within a movie. When Craven and New Line Cinema decide to resurrect Freddy one last time, things start going wrong on set and with the cast and crew. Heather's son Dylan starts acting strange and the spirit (or demon) behind the idea of Freddy Krueger tries to use her son to not only transcend fiction, but climb out from nightmares and into reality.

Scenes like the one above (which references the iconic moment from the original film we featured elsewhere in this list), are terrifying because of the classic Elm Street blurring between what's real and what's a dream.

Watch: above!

4
4 / 8

'Scream 2'

Movie: Scream 2

Released: 1997

Craven's Role: Director

Why It's Scary: As evidenced in the previous slide, the opening scene of any Scream film is quite gruesome and quite memorable. Scream 2 cements this tradition when Phil (Omar Epps) and Maureen (Jada Pinkett Smith) head to the movies for the big premiere of Stab, a fictional slasher film based on the events of the first Scream, and wind up just that. The scare factor is heightened by the fact that Maureen is literally murdered in front of a packed theater of people. The hyper horror fans, convinced it's an elaborate skit to promote the movie, watch in awe and confusion as she is repeatedly stabbed and subsequently dies on the stage in front of them.

Watch: above!

3
3 / 8

'Last House on the Left'

A poster for Wes Craven's 1972 horror film 'The Last House on the Left' starring Sandra Peabody. (Photo by Movie Poster Image
Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

Movie: Last House on the Left

Released: 1972

Craven's Role: Writer, Director, Editor

Why It's Scary: It doesn't take long for things to get gruesomely horrifying in Last House on the Left. When teenage friends Mari and Phyllis head into New York City to see a concert, they end up being kidnapped, raped and tortured by a gang of escaped convicts. After taking the girls to the woods. Phyllis at one point almost gets away and just when we think she's going to make it...Eek. 

Watch: Right Here.
*Warning: The clip is extremely graphic and violent.

2
2 / 8

'Scream'

Movie: Scream

Released: 1996

Craven's Role: Director

Why It's Scary: The opening scene in the first Scream film is a classic horror moment by now. Suburban teen Casey (Drew Barrymore) is home popping popcorn, waiting for her boyfriend to come watch some scary movies. She gets an unexpected phone call from the now-iconic voice asking her "What's your favorite scary movie?" After some playful back and forth the unknown man on the other end lets Casey know that while he's not actually so friendly, he's certainly not done playing games.

Watch: Above!

1
1 / 8

'A Nightmare on Elm Street'

Movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Released: 1984

Craven's Role: Writer, Director

Why It's Scary: High schooler Nancy Thompson has been having disturbing nightmares about a man with burned flesh and razors for fingers. Her best friend Tina has unknowingly been having similar dreams. When the two decide to spend the night together at Tina's house (along with Tina's boyfriend), we meet iconic horror movie baddie Freddy Krueger for the first time. Tina's suspenseful and terrifying run-in with Freddy is hard to watch. Freddy could easily just kill her and get it over with, but the way he plays a game of cat and mouse with her first lets us know how devious and maniacal he is.

Watch: See the full, gruesome clip right here.

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